Press release

Stoptober 2015 concludes

37% drop in smoking over last 30 years highlights progress towards a smokefree nation.

Stoptober 2015 campaign image featuring Al Murray, Rhod Gilbert, Shappi Khorsandi and Bill Bailey.

Public Health England (PHE) has revealed that over 215,000 smokers signed up to this year’s Stoptober, the country’s 28-day mass quitting challenge, reflecting latest figures which show substantial reductions in smoking over the last 30 years.

The latest official figures show rates across England have fallen dramatically since the mid eighties, from a third of the population in 1985 to less than a fifth now (18%), meaning there are 37% fewer smokers than 30 years ago.

The significant decline in smoking can also be seen in the reduction in the number of households that include a smoker, from half (50%) in 1985, to 21% in 2013.

Since 1985, there have been many changes both in attitudes and introduced through legislation. For example, tobacco advertising is no longer allowed, work and public places are smokefree, and tobacco displays must be covered up in all shops.

However, there are still around 8 million smokers in England and smoking causes almost 80,000 deaths per year. Treating smoking related diseases is estimated to cost the NHS £2 billion each year.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said:

Congratulations to those who have made it 28 days smoke free this Stoptober: your body will already be feeling the benefits and I urge you to remain strong and stop for good.

One in two smokers will die as a result of smoking. Stopping is one of the best things you can do for health so for those who didn’t manage to make it all the way, I encourage you try again, please go see your GP or local stop smoking service for help.

Martin Dockrell, Head of Tobacco Control Programme, PHE added:

Our campaigns are designed to help people quit so it is fantastic to see that over 215,000 people took part in this year’s Stoptober campaign and benefitted from more personal support than ever before. We’re making considerable progress towards a smokefree nation but smoking remains the biggest cause of health inequalities, with the harm hitting hardest in our most deprived communities. There’s still more to do and we must continue to help smokers across England to quit for good.

Research shows that by stopping smoking for 28 days, you are 5 times more likely to stop for good. Those taking part in Stoptober this year received free, exclusive and personal support from top comedians Bill Bailey, Al Murray, Shappi Khorsandi and Rhod Gilbert.

Stoptober has ended but there is still plenty of free advice available, including links to local stop smoking services: search ‘smokefree’ online or visit

Background information

For more information, please contact

Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Follow us on Twitter: @PHE_uk and Facebook:

Sources for figures include: ONS General Household Survey (1985), Integrated Household Survey (2014), Health and Lifestyle Survey (1985) and Health Survey for England (2013)


1 Stephen Street

Stoptober 2015

Public Health England press office

Wellington House
133-155 Waterloo Road


Published 30 October 2015